Having been out of high school for six years now, I’m able to look back at my experience with warm fuzzies and nostalgia. The self-loathing, the drama, the devastating outfit choices: It all seems like so much fun in retrospect! Unfortunately, I’ve discovered that the cheese mostly stands alone. Today when the topic of high school is broached, most people groan and say some variation of, “So glad that’s over. That shit was traumatizing.” What gives? Am I the only one that liked high school? Am I the only that remembers it accurately? Here are five things that were awesome about it.
1. Your teachers were hilarious freaks on leashes
High schools usually had a few teachers that were good at their job and were perhaps inspiring. More often than not though, they were unstable messes that made going to class an unpredictable and fun time! Or maybe it was just my high school. I had a teacher who was so obsessed with Star Trek that she wore space outfits to school and made us call her Captain. I had another teacher who was only 21 when she taught a class of 18-year-old seniors. Her spirit was fragile and young, and we terrorized her mercilessly. Students stole office supplies from her desk and left ransom notes signed, The Black Bandits. Things finally came to a head when she left the classroom to go speak to someone, and all of the students left and decided to have a dance-off in the quad. The next week she quit.
The weirdest experience I ever had though was with my AP History teacher. She was also very young, maybe 24, and she couldn’t teach for shit. She was pretty cool though and we ended up sparking up a friendship, which, in hindsight, became pretty bizarre. At the time I had just come out of the closet and was the token gay kid in school. She loved that for some reason and would ask me for boyfriend advice. One time she actually made me listen to a voicemail an ex left her and asked for my opinion. I was like, “Um, I don’t know. I still dye my hair blue sometimes.” When I graduated, she even made me a mixed CD with all of these Siouxsie and the Banshee songs. The weirdest part is that she used a picture of herself as the cover art. Uh…
Looking back, I feel kind of bad about how poorly some teachers got treated. And I also can’t believe how young some of them were! Most of them were in their early 20s and were probably still just as crazy as us—sleeping with people who didn’t mean a thing to them and getting drunk on the weekends. Weird.
2. Your classmates were hilarious freaks on leashes
While everyone can be strange in high school, there were always the select few who actually seemed crazy and provided you and your friends with a bottomless pit of hilariry. They’d be given snarky nicknames, watched in awe, and taunted by the class. In a sick way, the teasing acted as a unifier because it became the one thing that everyone could agree upon—this person is the class freak and we’re going to be little shits to them.
There was this one kid in my drama class though who was more terrifying than funny. He had the misfortune of being 4 feet tall and 500 pounds. I couldn’t help but feel a natural inclination to be sweet to him knowing that being overweight is difficult at any age, but during adolescence it can be truly devastating. But I quickly found out he was racist, homophobic, and generally a total fuckhead. He would say the most politically incorrect things in class—truly deplorable things—and you would just want to strangle him. Back then all you knew how to do was fight hate with hate so whenever he would say something offensive, we would just fire back with cruel jokes. We thought we were being progressive!
3. You see your friends 24/7
During high school, your friends truly become your family. You kind of hate your mom and dad (for legitimate or illegitimate reasons) and you just want to spend every waking hour with your buddies. I remember my best friend Kristy and I would just spend every moment together doing nothing. She would come over to my house and sometimes we wouldn’t even hang out. She would go into my computer room and I would lie in bed, and we would just exist together. As you get older, you lose that luxury with jobs and relationships. But high school is that brief moment in your life when it’s not really possible to miss your friends. It’s probably the thing I long for the most because missing people sucks.
4. You’ve never drank/done drugs/had sex!
Unless you were a little girl lost like Drew Barrymore, high school was probably the first time you ever indulged in drinking, drugs, or sex. OMG, wasn’t it so fun in the beginning? Weren’t hangovers, bad sex, and brain damage sort of a blast? Things have changed now obviously. Chances are you’ve been there, drank and fucked that. You’ve learned that beginnings can be better than middles or ends, and sometimes you just want to go back to that first time before something disappointed you and caused you to harden. But you can’t. Nope. Not ever. Your period of discovery and innocence is over. Please join the line of jaded people at the left!
5. Nothing really matters
High school is four years of your life that amount to little consequence. Life gifts you this time to realize that flared jeans aren’t right for your body type, blue hair is not a good look for you, and doing mushrooms is almost always a bad idea. At the time, I realized how special all of it was and I tried to enjoy everything as much as I could. But I’m also aware that everyone is different and that high school can be a miserable place for reasons that are completely beyond someone’s control. No matter what though, I feel like everyone was able to derive some joy from weird teachers and classmates, close friendships, and general youthful innocence. Right?